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one leading official called the looming cuts dumb. that was his language. and republicans are accusing the president now of failing to lead. fewer than five days until the budget bar falls, the obama initiative is trying to add to the urgency with cabinet secretaries offering dire warnings on sunday morning tv. there are literally teachers now getting pink slips now, getting notices they can't come back this fall. >> we are not making this up, david, and we are not making this up in order to put pain on the american people. we are required to cut $1 billion. >> reporter: $85 billion overall that administration officials warn could cripple air travel, force firefighter layoffs, even kick preschoolers out of child care. but many republicans place the blame on the white house. >> my advice to the president is stop the campaigning, stop sending out your cabinet secretaries to scare the american people. roll up your sleeves and do the hard work of governing. >> reporter: the massive cuts to the pentagon, including a 20% pay cut for more than 700,000 civilian workers john mccain
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called unconscionable, demanding mr. obama lead. >> the president should be calling us over somewhere, camp david, the white house, somewhere and us sitting down and trying to avert these cuts. >> reporter: but even within the republican party, many are questioning how bad the cuts will be, accusing you the president of exaggerating the consequences. >> to not cut 2.5% out of the total budget over a year when it's twice the size it was ten years ago, give me a break. >> reporter: still, at this ship yard in norfolk, virginia, 1600 letters warning of possible pink slips are already in the mail, while workers wait for washington to act. >> guys really need to put their heads together and figure something out. >> you know, they take this away, a lot of people are going to be hurt. >> reporter: a looming crisis underxbird virginia's republican governor. >> sequester was put in place to be a hammer, not a policy. now here we are a week away. find another way to do it and get it done now. >> reporter: tonight, many of
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the nation's governors were actually here at the white house for a formal dinner with the president. lester, even among those governors there's still uncertainty tonight about how exactly those budget cuts will affect their home states. >> peter alexander, thank you. a thrilling finish and some history made in today's daytona 500 race in florida, a day after a horrifying crash injured more than two dozen spectators. jimmie johnson won today's race, while danica patrick chalked up yet another first for the sport. but it was yesterday's crash that was on everyone's mind. nbc's janet shamlian is at the track tonight with the latest. hello, janet. >> reporter: today was a signature race, but it was saturday's crash that is still weighing on everyone here. i'm letting fans get up and personal. tonight there is more questions whether there should be more distance between the spectators and the sport. there was no stopping nascar's super bowl. >> let's just go racing. >> reporter: the daytona 500 went on as planned a day after a
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nightmarish crash on the very same track. 28 fans were hurt, 12 admitted to local hospitals. some were seated 40 rows up when a car on the last lap of a race crashed into the fence and split apart, sending chunks of metal and a tire high into the grandstand. >> we were really shook up. i mean, just because we thought, this really happened and we were, you know, so close. >> reporter: heather hovington came back for today's 500 but was glad her seats weren't too close. officials promised a careful review. >> i think the key is we sit down and review everything in terms of what happened. >> reporter: the catch fence separating the track from the crowd is 22 feet high, but some question whether that is high enough and if the grandstand is too close, but it is that ability to almost reach out and touch them that has been part of nascar's culture. >> fans want to be close to the action at daytona and if you were to walk by the fence here, you will feel it. your hair will be sucked sideways because you're so close to the action.
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that's what fans want. >> reporter: it was 12 years ago that seven-time champ dale earnhardt died on the last lap of the daytona 500. his death prompted a safety overhaul for both drivers and fans. >> they do the best they can to protect the drivers and the fans. when i come to these races, i do feel very safe as a fan. >> reporter: the other headline of the day, the historic pole position start for danica patrick who also became the first female to lead a lap in a nascar race. >> it's amazing how she is pretty much the only girl in a guy's sport and she is holding her own. kind of gives hope for other girls to do what they can and push for, like, dreams. >> reporter: danica's own dreams weren't fulfilled here, an eighth place finish for a woman who says she is just getting started. jimmie johnson's win was his second daytona 500 victory and michael waltrip who drove a car with the number 26 in honor of the 26 sandy hook victims, finished 22nd. lester? >> janet shamlian in florida for
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us tonight, thanks. the president of afghanistan today ordered all u.s. special operations forces to leave an embattled area of that country within two weeks because of torture and other allegations against afghans working with the americans. the area is wardak province, not far from kabul. for more on this, we turn to nbc pentagon correspondent, jim miklaszewski. jim, what is this all about? >> lester, this order today shocked u.s. defense and military officials, taken totally by surprise. military officials strongly deny u.s. commandos condone or took part in any kidnappings, torture or murders of afghan civilians or suspects. now, in the past, president karzai has taken the u.s. military to task, in part, to show the afghan people that he's in charge. but wardak province is a taliban stronghold, one of the hottest combat areas in afghanistan. so if karzai's playing politics here, it's an extremely dangerous game, lester. >> could this derail the planned
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2014 withdrawal of the majority of troops, the schedule the administration is currently sticking with? >> well, people are already wondering that. president obama has already announced 34,000 troops. that's half the total american force will withdraw from afghanistan by the end of this year. but if u.s. forces are prevented from executing their missions, you may start to hear calls from here in washington to pull out all american forces sooner than planned. >> jim miklaszewski tonight, thanks. john kerry made his debut on the world stage today as secretary of state. he will visit nine countries in europe and the middle east with syria and iran topping his agenda. nbc's chief foreign affairs correspondent, andrea mitchell, is traveling with him and is in london for us tonight. andrea, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, lester. as secretary kerry embarks on this first foreign trip, the u.s. is scrambling tonight to persuade syrian opposition leaders not the boy cat a planned meeting with the u.s.
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and ten other nations in rome scheduled for this week. john kerry was seemingly relaxed as he flew to london today on the plane, behind-the-scenes, the u.s. ambassador was rushing to cairo to rescue a planned meeting on syria that opposition leaders now threatening to cancel. a senior official traveling with the secretary said the opposition leaders are under severe pressure from fighters on the ground to get more support from the international community. but those suffering on the ground where the rebels have made some gains but the assad regime used scuds this week near aleppo are questioning the value of having their leaders attend fancy international conferences. as kerry arrived in london tonight, state department off officials were telling the syrian opposition this would be their best chance to make a direct case to the secretary of state. also on kerry's agenda here, intense talks about what to do about iran. lester? >> andrea, thank you. this was a bittersweet day at the vatican as pope benedict xvi made his final sunday appearance as the church faced
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new allegations of wrongdoing. nbc's anne thompson is at the vatican for us again tonight. anne, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, lester. today's events, you can see both the strengths and weaknesses of the catholic church, the exuberant energy and faith in the massive crowd gathered here, and the new charges of abuse that continue to haunt this institution. today, the world came to st. peter's square for pope benedict's final sunday blessing. part pep rally. part prayer service. just being in the crowd of 1,000 was a learning experience for these american students. >> that the faith has no national boundaries and political interests. >> reporter: the object of their affection and gratitude, the 85-year-old pontiff. he told the crowd he is not abandoning the church but answering god's call to more prayer and meditation, more appropriate for his age and strength.
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yet even in this joyful square, the scandals that marked his papacy were on the minds of some. >> i think he has done an admirable job in admitting the failures of his fellow bishop and priests, but also in desiring to clean up what he knows is a very awful mess. >> reporter: the vatican is denying unsubstantiated reports of scandal and blackmail inside its walls. outside you charges of clergy sex abuse ensnares some of the cardinals who will elect the next pope. saturday, cardinal roger mahoney answered lawyers' questions for almost four hours about an abusive priest under his management in los angeles and today, scottish cardinal keith o'brien was accused by three priests and a former priest of inappropriate behavior going back 30 years. o'brien denies the charges. pope benedict was told about this matter this afternoon. >> this business is not simply embarrassing, it is an impediment to the church getting on with its evangelical mission.
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>> reporter: even with all the problems, the faithful today insisted on saying thank you. now, tomorrow, the pope will meet privately with some cardinals and the vatican is promising an important announcement. the world is waiting to see if benedict will allow for the start date of the conclave to choose his successor to be moved up. lester? >> and anne, we noted that this was his final sunday appearance. will he make anymore public appearances before his resignation takes effect this week? >> reporter: he has got one more public appearance here in vatican city. he is going to hold his weekly audience on wednesday. and that is again expected to draw huge, huge crowds. he retires officially on thursday. he will fly out of here and go to castel gandolfo where he will stay for two months before he comes back to the vatican to go into his renovated monastery. lester?
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>> anne thompson at the vatican. thank you. starting this wednesday, we will have continuing coverage of the pope's resignation on "nbc nightly news" as well as the "today" show, msnbc and when "nbc nightly news" continues on this sunday, we will have the latest bizarre twist in the oscar pistorius case. and later on, this academy awards night the real diplomats who live through the ordeal dramatized in one of this year's top films.
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there was yet another surprise twist today in the case of oscar pistorius, who is accused of killing his girl friend and has been free on bail since friday. nbc's michelle kosinski has been following can the case for us in south africa. hello, michelle. >> reporter: hi, lester. this police station where pistorius is held is where he will have to check in twice a week, probably starting tomorrow. so far, he has not once left his uncle's house. he is not the only one under scrutiny, his brother faces a homicide charge. oscar pistorius, since his release on bail has remained indoors, out of the public eye, in the comfort of family at his
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uncle's home. in this case, it has read more like an unlikely crime novel. he was charged with premeditated murder in the shooting of his girlfriend, model reeva steenkamp at his house valentine's day early morning, claiming he thought she was an intruder. then the chief investigator on the case was charged with attempted mired from a work-related shooting. removed from the case. now, pistorius' older brother, carl is also charged, with culpable homicide, the equivalent of negligent homicide in the u.s., from a car accident six years ago in which a woman on a bicycle died. he was accused of driving recklessly. the charge was originally withdrawn by prosecutors, and then later reinstated. carl, at his brother's side throughout his hearing, was supposed to be on trial himself last thursday but it was postponed so he could support oscar. in a statement today, his lawyer said you in part there is no doubt that carl is innocent. blood tests conducted by the police at the time prove that he had not been under the influence of alcohol, confirming that it was a tragic road accident.
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today, friends of reeva steenkamp reacted to oscar's release. >> i'm really still kind of upset with this evasion. that is very soon. i kind of have anger inside me towards him. and personally, i think he deserve to stay in jail and suffer there. >> reporter: and her family denied reports circulating in the press that police told them that reeva had been beaten with a cricket bat that morning, and that they had seen injuries indicating that. as an investigator had stated in court, there was no sign of assault or struggle, no defensive injuries. one more reason, his defense argued that pistorius should be set free. tonight, a documentary aired here showing steenkamp's grieving parents, saying they just want the truth and video showing steenkamp arising at the pistorius's development the prior evening followed closely by him. >> michelle kosinski in pretoria tonight, thanks. when we come back, the
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latest other on yet another big winter storm.
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the demonstrators started climbing the walls.
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the scene last night in sicily as the mt. etna volcano came alive yet again. this was the fifth eruption in the last few days. it was much bigger than the others. the lava shot up more than half a mile high. we are keeping a close watch tonight on another big blast of winter, a massive storm that will affect much of the country in the next few days, just as the last big storm moves out of new england. today, parts of colorado were getting up to a foot or more of snow as this new storm makes its way east. who will be affected? we are joined by weather channel meteorologist kim cunningham now. >> thanks, lester. yes, we are watching another storm pulling away from the northeast, leaving behind 6 to 12 inches of snow anywhere from portland into new hampshire. boston could squeak out maybe 1 to 2 inches before this is all done. and then tomorrow, we are
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talking sunshine and temperatures back to at least average for the most part. but now, we got to focus what's happening in the plains, blizzard conditions expected in this area starting tonight. winter storm warnings for kansas city, wichita could see another top ten snowstorm with this and winter storm watch is expected in chicago here later on. we're going to watch this storm moving north. blizzard conditions again, interstates may be closed. kansas city could see 4 to 6 inches of snow with this, maybe 6 to 8 in some areas. chicago eventually will see rooks like 3 to 6 inches before it is all done, but this area of the country again getting lots of snow. there is also a threat for severe weather, not just gusty winds and heavy rain, isolated tornadoes, we will track this storm, looks like to the east coast midweek. back to you. >> kim cunningham, thanks so much. when we come back, we'll meet the real diplomats who inspired one of tonight's best picture nominees.
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the movie, "argo" is among those nominated for best picture in tonight's academy awards. if you haven't seen it, it is about an intriguing subplot that played out during the iranian hostage crisis more than three decades ago. among the 52 americans held at the u.s. embassy, there was a smaller group of americans who
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escaped and took refuge in the canadian embassy until a cia agent named tony mendez rescued them. tonight, we hear from five of those six americans in their own words. >> it was another routine day at the embassy. we had been briefed. we knew there would be that day more demonstrations. >> somewhere around 10:00, the demonstrators started climbing over the walls. >> we smelled smoke and that is when we decided we had to leave. >> if we're going to go, we need to go now. >> yeah. >> yeah, yeah. let's go. >> cora and i were in the first group, along with joe and kathy stafford. >> we got to get off the streets. >> i, fortunately, was able to make the connection with the canadians. >> we know they escaped the embassy. >> where are they? >> the canadian ambassador's house. >> months go on the thanksgiving came and left and christmas came and left. >> we read a ton of books, got
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very good at scrabble. >> tony came toward the end of january. >> argo, science fantasy adventure. >> tony laid out three different scenarios, with obviously the film crew scenario being the one that he was most enthusiastic about. >> you really believe your little story's gonna make a difference when there's a gun to our heads? >> my husband did ask questions, because any sort of small mistake, we would jeopardize our whole group and the canadians who had hidden us for such a long time. >> each were given a sheet of paper our bio information to memorize. >> based on real information. >> what is your date of birth? >> i had my mother's birthday, but my year. >> on my way out to the airport, we knew this was it. this was the moment of truth. >> in the movie, they show us being stopped and questioned. that did not happen. once we got past immigration, we went through security check. >> tony's plan was so perfect and so smooth that it went off very well. when we crossed the border from iran into turkey, that was when
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we really knew that it was over. >> when i watched the movie the first time, i had this flooding feeling of relief, you know, that i hadn't even thought about all those 33 years ago. >> i knew what was going to happen and i still was on the edge of my seat, how it was going to turn out. i'm on there for about three seconds in one of the final scenes and somebody holding a sign that says "welcome home bob anders" and i'm one holding the sign. >> the six americans who escaped from iran with the help of the canadian embassy are now in the united states. >> this film has started a conversation. i do hope that, you know, while i'm still alive, america will again have an embassy there in iran. >> all five remain grateful to the canadians and the cia for securing their freedom but say the real heroes are their 52 embassy colleagues who were held hostage for more than a year. that is "nbc nightly news" for this sunday. i will see you shortly for "dateline." brian williams will be here tomorrow.
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i'm lester holt reporting from new york, for all of us here at nbc news, good night. good evening. >> according to multiple reports quarterback alex smith is moving on from the 49ers. tonight, sources say that the niners have traded smith. let's get right to henry of comcast sportsnet with more. what do you have for us, henry? >> yes, diane, there are multiple reports the 49ers have a deal in place to trade quarterback alex smith. however, the deal can't be finalized before march 12th which is when the new league year begins. cbs sportsline reporter was the
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first reporter to report this potential trade about 40 minutes ago. the 49ers have not confirmed this report at this time. but here's the more details. the can stas sigh chiefs have emerged as leading candidate to complete that trade for alex smith. however, he says the jaguars, cardinals, browns, bills, and jets are interested in acquiring the 28-year-old quarterback who has been with the 49ers since 2005. according to the report the trade to an unnamed team is, quote, effectively complete. we'll have more on this story coming up later in sports. >> all right, henry, thanks very much. look forward to that. we are following a developing story in the east bay. tonight, several cars are smashed up and one woman is in the hospital. carjacking in fremont and ended with a messy scene in union city. nbc bay area is there from union city. george, police are still

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NBC February 24, 2013 5:30pm-6:00pm PST

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TOPIC FREQUENCY U.s. 9, Us 8, Vatican 6, Alex Smith 3, Nascar 3, London 3, Lester 3, Afghanistan 3, Janet Shamlian 2, Nbc 2, Jimmie Johnson 2, Anne Thompson 2, Benedict 2, Danica Patrick 2, Obama 2, Carl 2, Iran 2, Washington 2, Virginia 2, Syria 2
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